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Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?
Does babies’ poop look different than a formula fed baby?
How often should I breastfeed?
How long should a feeding last?
Do I need a special diet while breastfeeding?
If I am sick, should I still breastfeed?
If I smoke, should I breastfeed?
Are prescription drugs safe to take?
Can I still get pregnant while I breastfeed?
Will I have a menstrual period while nursing?

 

How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?
You will hear baby swallowing.  A newborn baby nurses 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.  They may nurse less frequently as they get older.  Baby will have 5 to 7 wet diapers by day five.  Baby will have yellow poop and clear or pale yellow urine by day 5. Baby is active and alert, happy and satisfied after breast feeding. 

Does babies’ poop look different than a formula fed baby?
Yes. It even smells different! It doesn't smell bad. When babies are born, they have a black tarry stool called merconium for a few days. Then the poop changes to a brownish color to greenish then to yellow.  Breastfed babies’ poop looks yellow by about day five. It can be watery or look like mucus or have little seedy looking or cottage cheese looking particles in it. Breastfed babies poop about 4 times a day for several weeks. As they get older, they may have fewer but bigger poops. Around 4 to 6 months of age baby may change their patterns and not have poops for several days and that is normal. 

How often should I breastfeed?
It is best to feed on demand when they show signs of hunger such as rooting at the breast, chewing their fists, and sticking out their tongue. Do not wait until your baby cries.  Newborn babies typically nurse 8-12 times per day.  As they get older, they may nurse 6-8 times per day.  They need night feedings, too. 

How long should a feeding last?
How long babies nurse also depends on their age. As babies get older, they become more efficient, so they may take about 5-10 minutes on each side, whereas newborns may feed for 20-30 minutes on each breast.  Some will take both breasts at each feeding and some only take one breast at a time.

Do I need a special diet while breastfeeding?
You don't need a special diet.  A few babies do become fussy when mom eats spicy or gassy food so, if this happens, just avoid that food for awhile and try again in a few weeks. You do not need to drink milk to make milk. Caffeine in moderation is usually o.k. If baby is fussy about an hour after you have a caffeinated drink, you may want to cut back on caffeinated pop, coffee, or tea.  When you are breastfeeding, you have a higher need for some vitamins and minerals. More information about healthy eating when breastfeeding can be found at choosemyplate.gov.

If I am sick, should I still breastfeed?
It is very, very rare for a mom to need to stop breastfeeding for any illness. During any “ordinary” illness such as a cold, sore throat, flu, tummy bug, fever, mastitis, etc. you should continue to breastfeed. Just remind your doctor you are nursing so that if medications are needed he can prescribe something that is compatible with breastfeeding. Most medications are safe to take while breastfeeding, and for those that are not recommended there is almost always an alternative medication that is safe. When you have a contagious illness such as a cold, flu, or other mild virus, your baby was exposed to the illness before you even knew you were sick. Your milk will not transmit your illness to baby, but it does have antibodies in it that are specific to your illness (plus anything else you or baby have been exposed to) – they'll help prevent baby from getting sick, or if he does get sick, he'll probably not be as sick as you. 

If  I smoke should I breastfeed?
Most moms try to cut  back on their smoking and even manage to quit. Breastfeeding is better than formula feeding even if you smoke.  The breast milk is healthier for the baby than formula and the milk helps to counter some of the harmful effects of smoking. Nicotine levels are lower if you smoke after nursing your baby instead of before. Don't smoke near your baby and remember to wash your face as well as your hands after you smoke. Remind others who may hold and kiss your baby to do the same. Smoking increases risk for SIDS, allergies, bronchitis, colic, diarrhea, and reflux to name a few. The nicotine patches may be a safe way for you to quit smoking as you get less nicotine in the dose than in smoking. NEVER smoke marijuana. It is dangerous for your baby and is illegal. The drug enters the bloodstream rapidly and peaks in breast milk within an hour of smoking. It can affect a baby's blood chemistry for up to a month and in the urine 2 to 3 weeks after smoking. A baby is at a greater risk for SIDS, has decreased brain development and altered brain cells. 

Are prescription drugs safe to take?
Consult your doctor, pharmacist, or lactation consultant before taking over the counter or prescription drugs. The majority are safe because the drug may not be passed into the breast milk or diluted in the mother’s body. There are books available that have researched drugs safety and most lactation consultants have access to them. 

Can I still get pregnant while I breastfeed?
Yes, you can! Ask your doctor about the best form of birth control for you. Estrogens in birth control pills may decrease milk supply, so you may want to choose another form of birth control or have the doctor prescribe a lower dose of estrogen pill. 

Will I have a menstrual period while nursing?
Everyone is different so you may or may not have a period. If your period resumes you can still continue to nurse. You may notice a lower supply of milk a few days before and during your period but if you nurse more frequently, the supply usually returns. Nursing more frequently will satisfy baby, too.